This presentation was a panel discussion focusing on teachers as technology coaches. Technology coaches have been found to be the most effective form of professional development. The benefit of a coach is that they provide a safety net to teachers who need assistance in technology integration.
Elements of Effective Coaching:
– Building relationships with teachers. Knowing the tech is part of it, but building rapport is important.
– Making the discussion/tech relevant
– Reflection. Have teachers reflect on what was effective, successful. Coach reflect on training – what is successful
– Build trust. Teachers need to feel that they can rely on coaches.
– Observation. What are their behaviors? What could they be doing differently in the classroom.
– Teachers are looking for a peer, not a trainer or supervisor. Coaching is a two way street.
– Start with those who are comfortable working with a coach.
Elements of Ineffective Coaching:
– Do not enable a teacher. Some teachers want you to come in and teacher the kids how to use a piece of software. Coaching is not teaching the kids. Coaching is teaching the teacher and modeling so they can be empowered to teach.
– It’s not about the tool. It is about the end result. What do you want to do?
– Leaving out the high flyers. If you leave out the ones you assume are tech-learned, you will create a wall in which they feel left out. Work with all levels.
How do the roles of coaches impact highly effective digital age teaching and learning?
Digital learning allows independence among student learners. Coaching teachers in digital learning means that teachers can differentiate in challenging situations. Teachers are looking for solutions. Technology for the sake of technology is not what we are saying, but embracing new skills to provide solutions will make teachers more effective.
As an example, when implementing iPads in a district, it was found that having peer coaches allowed teachers to use iPads more effectively than if they had minimal training or if just given iPads with no training.
Developing a portfolio for teachers is a good way to show growth. Focus groups also allow teachers to discuss needs, ask questions, and work with coaches to evaluate new tech. Developing an evaluation tool so teachers can evaluate their own experiences can be helpful – during pre and post training.
The most effective coaches are those who still work in the classroom, or self nominate and go through training.
How does effective coaching transform education?
Coaches don’t always play the role of expert. This puts you in a position where teachers will sit back and have you do all the work. This creates learned helplessness. The solution is to create inquiry. What would you do? How would we solve this? This way allows the teacher to own the solution. The goal is to help them learn the capacity to solve their own problems. Coaches model collaboration which allows teachers to pick up those skills shown or discussed. Coaches help to develop networks of learning (PLNs).
Also, coaches need to work closely with principals. How does coaching fit with school improvement plan? How does coaching fit with school goals? Have a meeting with each principal so that the coach receives the proper support and the principal is able to receive information about the good things that are coming from coaching.
The best way to use technology is through inquiry. Ask questions. By modeling what they should do with their kids, you help the teacher teach the kids about self directed learning and inquiry.
What are the challenges to creating and sustaining a coaching model?
Time- It’s great if someone has the primary job of coach, but this is not always possible. Some coaches work on release time. Work with administrators to remove some of those time barriers. Sub time works, as well as an extra plan hour dedicated to coaching.
Training – There should be training up front and professional development to build coaching skills in order for them to be effective.
Staff culture – Developing a rapport or trust with teachers is important. It takes time and support from the administration to develop a culture which establishes an effective coaching relationship. Communication of the impact of coaching – portfolios, successes, etc – is important to developing culture as well.
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